Top 20 Sneakers of All-Time for the Black Mamba continues it’s countdown with #11-15.
Each sneaker is ranked on historical significance and value towards the industry and consumer. Your favorite shoe may not be featured on the list, but remember, this is what it trickles down to, importance, not hype. What sneaker has left a mark on Kobe Bryant’s career and what did it do for the basketball world and consumer? These are the decisions we faced while making the list. We hope you are enjoying the results so far. The next five will be posted tomorrow and finish it off this Friday to end #KobeWeek.
15. Nike Kobe 9 Elite Low “Mamba Moment”
This needs no explanation, the moment where you surpass your idol’s career in points. Kobe Bryant surpassed Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list in Minnesota back 2014 against the Timberwolves and it was a memorable one. Kobe was sent to the charity stripe, nails both free throws, and just like that, he hits 32,292 points. What a feat, being third leading scorer of all-time behind Karl Malone (36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387).
The Nike Kobe 9 Elite Low “Mamba Moment” was the sneaker Nike had given Kobe for this milestone. There was no special release online or anything as Nike Basketball decided to release it as an option for Nike iD. It sold out instantly for obvious reasons and was only open for a limited amount of time. The color combination was Kobe’s own doing as he created the upper pattern himself. Behind the tongue had 32,292 and ????? on the other.
14. Nike Kobe 8 “Amnesty” PE
A lot of fans of the game could debate on whether Kobe Bryant was worth the contracts he was given. During 2013, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested that the Lakers should amnesty Kobe Bryant and he responded with a third straight win as they made a push to 8th seed for the Playoffs.
The Nike Kobe 8 model to this day is an all-time favorite for many. Nike pushed the sneaker to be as low as possible and it quite possibly is the lowest cut sneaker in the line. Pushing the limits, the Kobe 8 was also the sneaker that Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles in so this model has played a significant role in Bryant’s career.
13. Nike Kobe 9 Elite “Masterpiece”
For some reason, Nike Basketball has always chosen Kobe to debut the latest and greatest technologies that they produce in the kitchen. Whether it’s Lunarfoam (Lunarlon today), Nike Flywire, and now Nike Flyknit, lead designer Eric Avar has welcomed each challenge with open arms. At the time, each Kobe model had been low for about five years (2009-2014) so it was about time for a change.
Many thought that the decision to go back to a high-top sneaker was due to the achilles injury. Kobe Bryant was still in the process of recovering, but the real inspiration came from Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao. Inspired by Kobe’s visit to Manny Pacquiao’s gym in Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant wanted the protection of the high-top but that could also perform and respond like a low.
“Manny was getting ready for the (Juan Manuel) Marquez fight two years ago and I stopped by his training camp,” said Bryant. “I watched him spar and train, watched him moving, looking at his footwork, trying to learn from him, how he uses his footwork. I asked myself I wonder if I could move like Manny in a basketball shoe that looks like his boxing boot. The basketball shoe had to be really light like Manny’s boxing boot. I wanted the high-tops to be responsive to the movement of the ankles.”
Nike released the Prelude Pack that included the Kobe 9 Elite Masterpiece to celebrate defining moments in his career. The Masterpiece Kobe 9 was a first for Nike as it introduced Flyknit technology to the sport of basketball, creating a light yet supportive upper. The Kobe 9 Elite not only became the best performance sneaker of the signature line, but it raised the bar of the industry as a whole.